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Japan’s ‘Big Whale’ submarine adds new weaponry that puts Chinese Navy in trouble

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Japan has been building one Taigei-class attack submarine every year since 2020. The lead ship seen here was commissioned in 2022.
Maritime Self-Defense Force

  • Japan has launched a new Taigei-class submarine every year since 2020.
  • These “Big Whale” submarines are expected to hunt Chinese warships if war breaks out.
  • Its advanced capabilities and stealth make it a prime candidate for ambush attacks against Chinese warships.

In October, Kawasaki Heavy Industries held a ceremony at its Kobe shipyard to launch Japan’s newest submarine. The diesel-electric attack submarine was named JS Raijira (Japanese for “Thunder whale”). heavy typemeaning “big whale.”

Its launch comes nearly a year after the launch of the third Taigei-class submarine, JS Gingei (or “Swift Whale”). Each takes about two years to build, and Japan has been launching a new Taigei-class submarine every year since 2020.

This schedule shows that Japan’s leading shipyards not only have superior delivery times. It also demonstrates Japan’s determination to modernize its submarine fleet with the introduction of a new diesel-electric submarine, considered one of the best in the world.

Featuring many new technologies and innovations, the Taigei-class submarines are primarily designed to protect against the very real and growing threat posed by the Chinese Navy, and should war break out. It is expected to play an important role in tracking Chinese warships.

A new threat: advanced submarines

The superior capabilities of Japan’s submarines are the result of a large industrial base and extensive experience in building and operating submarines spanning more than a century.

Japanese Soryu typePronounced “so-a-yu,” the submarine is known for its effectiveness and effectiveness, including being one of the first front-line submarine classes to feature atmospheric independent propulsion (AIP) technology, which allows diesel-electric boats to navigate underwater. The advanced features are particularly praised. over a longer period of time.

Due to the technological sophistication of submarines and the powerful combination of allied U.S. Navy nuclear-powered attack submarines, the Japanese Navy, officially known as the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), fields a small submarine fleet compared to its neighbors. It became possible.

Even in the years immediately following the Cold War, the Soviet threat virtually disappeared overnight, the Russian threat appeared to be significantly degraded compared to previous generations, and China’s submarine fleet, although large, remained , still considered almost generations behind in terms of naval power. There will be a technological gap.

But in recent years, the gap has narrowed dramatically.

China’s current submarine fleet is numbering Approximately 59 boats including 10 improved kilo class12 Type 039,twenty one 039A type Diesel-electric attack submarine.Force also includes six Type 093/093A 6 nuclear attack submarines Type-094 Nuclear ballistic missile submarine.

These models are equipped with the latest systems and weapons and have the latest features. For example, Yuan class boats are equipped with his AIP technology, Looks like it’s getting some upgrades to make it more stealthy.

Additionally, China is becoming increasingly assertive with its navy. Around the Senkaku IslandsDespite the Chinese government’s claims, Japan maintains its sovereignty.

Therefore, Japan needs to expand the size of its submarine fleet and equip each submarine with advanced technology to achieve qualitative superiority.

Japan is increasing the size of its submarine fleet, but its size is still only about one-third that of China. This image is of the Soryu-class submarine “Kokuryu.”
Maritime Self-Defense Force

big whale

In 2010, a year after the first Soryu-class submarines entered service, Japan announced plans to increase its submarine fleet from 16 to 22 ships. She also continued to pursue new technologies that she began researching during her first decade of the 2000s.

One of those technologies was lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are much more efficient than standard lead-acid batteries and maintain a greater voltage when discharging energy. They also typically have a high energy density and can store twice as much energy as lead-acid batteries.

For submarines, this means faster acceleration and top speed, more time underwater, less maintenance, faster charging times, lower noise levels, and improved overall performance. Lithium-ion batteries are highly efficient and already store a large amount of energy, which also eliminates the need for AIP. Submarines require burst speed to avoid depth charges and homing torpedoes.

While other navies have been reluctant to use lithium-ion batteries in their submarines due to the risk of failure or fire, Japan has become the first (and so far only) country to incorporate this technology into its submarines. . Last two Soryu-class submarines commissionedJS Ouryu, JS Toryu.

In 2020, Japan launched JS Taigei, the lead ship in its class and the first submarine designed from the ground up to be equipped with lithium-ion batteries. She will be commissioned in 2022 and will look similar to the Soryu-class, but will be slightly larger at 275 feet long and 30 feet wide, with a surface displacement of approximately 3,000 tons. By comparison, the U.S. Navy’s Los Angeles-class attack submarines are about 90 feet longer.

Like the Soryu-class, it is equipped with an X-type rudder to improve propulsion performance, and is equipped with a similar countermeasure system. The same he is also equipped with the ZPS-6F surface/low-level air search radar, the same towed array he carries sonar and has an optronic mast.

But in addition to lithium-ion batteries, the Taigei class also has a new snorkel system, a new sonar system based on fiber-optic array technology, a new battle management system that collects data from all sensors, and pump jet propeller.

The Taigei class, which has a crew capacity of 70, has a women-only section in the crew cabin that accommodates six female submariners. This is a first for a Japanese submarine.

The submarine is equipped with six torpedo tubes. Type 89 and can fire Type 18 torpedoes. UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile.

central role

Submarines have been around for a long time expected to play a dominant role Japan’s submarines are of particular importance given the possibility of a future conflict with China.Last year, the Center for Strategic and International Studies conducted a wargame simulating China’s invasion of Taiwan. explained Japanese submarines are “the most valuable”.

Due to their advanced capabilities and stealth characteristics, they would be prime candidates for ambush attacks against Chinese warships. Naval strategic choke points Also in the East China Sea, South China Sea, and the Sea of ​​Japan.

Of particular importance are the Miyako Strait and the Bashi Strait. The waters between Japan and Taiwan, and Taiwan and the Philippines, respectively.

Not only Japanese submarines, but also submarines from allied and partner countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, could turn these waters into killing zones, limiting the Chinese navy’s freedom of maneuver and the ability to send ships and submarines to its second island chain. Deployment capacity may be limited. onwards.

In September, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force conducted anti-submarine warfare training with one submarine in the South China Sea, and in 2021 it conducted its first joint anti-submarine training exercise with the U.S. Navy in the same area.

Taigei-class submarines are the most modern submarines in the fleet and will play a central role in these efforts.

Since 2018, Japan has launched four Taigei-class submarines. Taigai JS, Hakugai JS, Jingai JS, Ligai JS. JS Shen Gei is scheduled to enter service in March, but only the first two ships are still in service. JS Raijira is scheduled to enter service in 2025.

Japan plans to acquire at least seven Taigei boats. These will replace the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Oyashio-class submarines, which were retired last year.



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